Verity has long been a member of Venus, a women’s business network that supports businesswomen to thrive. We were thrilled to be able to contribute this article to their print magazine recently. Click here to view the full magazine or read on to see our article below.
“Those who tell the stories rule the world” – as the Native American proverb says. Words that are as true today as when they were first spoken.
In today’s fast-moving environment, the most effective communication comes from telling interesting and valuable stories. Stories have the ability to evoke emotion, bring back memories and mobilise us to act. In this way, stories are powerful and stories can move us.
We instinctively feel that as consumers, and now businesses are starting to realise that, in order to play to win, they need to embrace the power of storytelling. In 2016, Forbes referred to storytelling as the new strategic imperative of business.
Stories help a business to own their niche, create authentic connections with their market and win in their competitive environment, but not all stories can do this… so what makes a great one?
For a story to drive a conversation with the market, it needs to connect people to what makes a brand or business special and different. People care about organisations they connect to; it’s that simple.
Think about how you get close to others in Venus: you sit down for a Rave and share things about yourself. Over time, you reveal what drives you, what you like and dislike, your values – all the things that make you uniquely ‘you’. And you do that through telling stories. The narratives we tell other Venus members allow us to form relationships; the same is true for brands.
Storytelling may seem old-fashioned, but that’s exactly why it works to forge genuine connections. So, how do you tell a great story – one that inspires people to think, feel and do?
- Be authentic: The best stories are real; they’re honest. They provide a true insight into a brand, a business, or a person. They have compelling characters. Consumers are savvy and know when they’re merely being fed marketing lines. Find real and authentic ways of communicating your points of difference. Chances are, the thing you do excites you and it has the potential to be exciting for others too, if you can connect them to why you do it, and what it means for you.
- Surprise and delight: Good storytelling evokes a strong neurological response; you follow the narrative, live through the characters’ trials and tribulations, and are along on the journey as they reach a resolution. The suspense builds, followed by the seductive surge of dopamine – and this happy little brain chemical makes us feel infatuation; a vitally important ingredient for brands.
- Keep it simple: Key to any great story is that they make us think and feel. To do this, the best stories are simple – focusing around one single important idea, theme or message. You don’t want people to leave people confused; if you’ve got more ideas, write more stories. One clear idea is far more effective for evoking emotions and, when you can get people to feel, you can get people to act. That is why storytelling is vital to business.
Or, as Harrison Monarth, author of The Confident Speaker says: “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”